15th Annual International Conference on Psychology 24-27 May 2021, Athens, Greece Program (Athens Local Time) (Note: each presentation includes at least 10 minutes for questions and discussions if available)
Monday 24 May 2021
11.00-11.30 Opening and Welcoming Remarks:
Gregory T. Papanikos, President, ATINER.
Thanos Patelis, Head, Psychology Unit of ATINER & Lecturer, Teachers College at Columbia University and Achievement and Assessment Institute, University of Kansas, USA. (Video)
Jose-Julian Escario, Professor, University of Zaragoza Spain. Title: Predictors of Adolescent Truancy: The Importance of Cyberbullying, Peer Behaviour and Parenting Style.
This study extends the truancy literature by exploring correlates of both committing truancy and the numbers of days truant with a Spanish representative sample of secondary school students (N = 37,476; Mage = 15.73; 50.9% females). Count data regressions suggest that cyberbullying and parenting style play a significant role in a student’s decision to commit truancy, while peer truancy plays a significant role in both the decision of whether or not to commit truancy (OR = 1.61) and the number of days truant (IRR = 1.41). These results suggest that reducing cyberbullying and promoting specific parenting styles may serve to reduce truancy, and that this direct effect or reduction could be further increased indirectly via peer or social multipliers.
12:00-12:30 Rita Zukauskiene, Professor, Mykolas Romeris University Lithuania. Title: The Role of Adolescents in Changing Pro-environmental Habits in the Family.
The aim of the current cross-sectional representative survey of adolescents and one of their parents (guardians) in Lithuania was to investigate the bidirectional influences of parents’ and adolescents’ information-induced pro-environmental intentions and behavior. The dataset includes 508 households with at least one adolescent (age 13 – 17) and one parent (or legal adult guardian). In each family, the adolescent and parent individually completed a questionnaire related to three pro-environmental consumption practices: reducing the purchase of single-use plastic bottles, using reusable shopping bags, and recycling plastic. Overall, we found that both adolescents and their parents influence each other’s pro-environmental intentions and behaviors. Although the influence mechanisms for different types of behaviors differ slightly, our study showed that adolescents’ attempt to influence parents’ behavior is particularly important in promoting all three types of parents’ plastic waste-related pro-environmental behaviors. Also, both parents’ and adolescents’ awareness of need is especially important for promoting a positive intergenerational transmission of behaviors to decrease bottled water use and plastic recycling. These findings suggest that the education of young people may especially matter for fostering pro-environmental efforts in the family.
Goda Kaniusonyte, Associate Professor, Mykolas Romeris University, Lithuania. Title: Effects of the Intervention Program “Acuatic” to Pro-Environmental Identity and Motivation.
The “greening” of individual behaviors is an important component of mitigating climate change and other human-caused environmental problems (Dietz et al., 2009). Adolescents are an important target group for promoting pro-environmental behaviors as they are at the life stage of forming their systems of beliefs, morals, and values. The important indicators of that system are environmental identity and motivation to act in pro-environmental way. Thus, the aim of the current study is to assess the intervention program “Aquatic”, targeted at the reduction of bottled water use. Quasi experimental design has been chosen. In the first assessment (1st pre-test) 5 high schools in Lithuania participated in the study (n = 924, 54.2% girls, age range from 13 to 19, M=15.22, SD=0.69). After the evaluation of outcome indicators two matching schools were chosen for the next stage: experimental (n = 233) and control (n = 182). In the second assessment (2nd pre-test) sample consists of 414 adolescents (53.8% girls, age range from 13 to 17, M=15.43, SD=0.59) from both schools. The intervention took place in February 2020, the post-test was conducted in March (N = 347) with two follow ups in June 2020 (N = 275) and October 2020 (N = 370). The last follow-up will take place in January 2021. The effects of intervention will be evaluated measuring the change of environmental identity (U-MICS in environmental domain, Crocetti, Rubini, & Meeus, 2008) and environmental motivation (MTES, Pelletier et al., 1998). In the paper the results of all waves will be presented, and the impact of the intervention will be discussed.
13:00-13:30 Audra Balunde, Junior Research Fellow, Environmental Psychology Research Centre, Mykolas Romeris University, Lithuania. Goda Kaniusonyte, Associate Professor, Mykolas Romeris University, Lithuania. Title: Do General Environmental Considerations and Personal Norms are Related to Future Pro-environmental Actions of Adolescents? A Longitudinal Examination of the values-identity-personal Norms Model.
The values-identity-personal norms model of pro-environmental behavior (van der Werff & Steg, 2016) posits that the stronger people’s general environmental considerations (i.e., biospheric values and environmental self-identity), the more likely that they would feel morally obliged to act pro-environmentally. Yet this has been mostly tested in cross-sectional studies in adult samples, therefore in this study we will aim to answer two questions. First, whether general environmental considerations and personal norms are related to pro-environmental intentions and behavior (i.e., tap water use instead of bottled water) of adolescents in two distinct time points. Second, whether these general environmental considerations, personal norms, pro-environmental intentions and behaviors are related to corresponding variables measured after three months. Studies were conducted in two administrative regions in Lithuania. Informed consent was obtained from parents or guardians of the participants. The final sample consisted of 340 participants (56.8 % females) aged 14-17 (M = 15.24, SD = .71). Only cases that overlapped in both time points were used for the analysis. Primary analysis indicated that adolescents’ biospheric values and environmental self-identity were related cross-sectionally to their personal norms and intentions to act pro-environmentally and to pro-environmental behavior in two different time points. Also, biospheric values, environmental self-identity, personal norms, intentions and pro-environmental behavior in Time 1 were related to the respective variables in Time 2. In addition, biospheric values, environmental self-identity and personal norms in Time 1 were significantly related to intentions and behavior in Time 2 (except environmental self-identity and behavior relationship, which was insignificant). This is the first evidence that general environmental considerations and personal norms can explain future pro-environmental behavior of adolescents. These findings have important practical implications for educational interventions aimed at targeting pro-environmental behavior of adolescents.
Yuliya Kovalenko, Quality Assuarance Manager, St. Fatima School, Egypt. Title: Impact of Hard Lockdown on Coping Patterns in University Youth.
The global pandemics of COVID-19 has shattered many lives; yet, it has opened new opportunities to investigate unanswered questions related to human’s behavior, including that of coping with academic stress. This cross-cultural study compared the coping behavior patterns of Egyptian and Ukrainian university youth before (Stage 1) and during (Stage 2) the hard lockdown due to Covid-19 spread in April and March, 2020. Given a more significant impact of ethnic identity on coping strategies choices – as compared to the religious identity – and that no statistically significant difference between the coping patterns of Egyptian Muslims and Egyptian Christians had been found, an effect of the social condition change on coping behavior was examined for the two ethnic groups in general. The Egyptian group included N = 216 subjects (139 women and 76 men) during the Stage 1 and N = 101 subjects (72 women and 29 men) during the Stage 2 research; the Ukrainian group included N = 109 (63 women and 46 men) participants at the Stage 1 and N = 78 (52 women and 26 men) participants at the Stage 2. Specific differences of coping strategies were measured with “SACS” and dispositional “COPE” questionnaires and then interpreted as coping patterns using the hierarchical model of 3 adaptive processes and 12 coping families proposed by Skinner, Edge, Altman, and Sherwood (2003). It was determined that the level of perceived stress measured with PSS-14 slightly increased in the group of Egyptians (M = 32.1 versus M = 34.3) at the Stage 2. At the same time, there was a noticeable similarity in the choice of dominant coping strategies employed by the Egyptians under the different social conditions. Statistically significant differences were observed for six less common in both Egyptian samples coping strategies, namely: “Seeking Emotional Support” (t = 2.32; p ≤ 0.05), “Indirect Action” (t = 2.67; p ≤ 0.05), “Mental Disengagement ” (t = -3.19; p ≤ 0.05), “Seeking Instrumental Support” (t = 4.07; p = 0.00), “Active Coping” (t = 2.35; p ≤ 0.05), and “Humor” (t = 3.42; p ≤ 0.05). The two independent samples of Ukrainians also used mainly the same coping strategies, manifesting statistically significant differences only in the “Cautious Action” (t = -2.68; p ≤ 0.05) and “Instinctive Action” (t = -7.61; p = 0.000). It was concluded that in the context of quarantine-induced social isolation, coping behavior patterns in both ethnic groups remained constant at the level of coping families and adaptive processes. Both Egyptians and Ukrainians resorted to the same families of coping strategies: “Problem solving”, “Information seeking”, “Support seeking”, and “Accommodation” Besides, it was found that coping patterns did not depend on the perceived stress in a particular situation.
Beata Mirucka, Lecturer, University of Bialystok, Poland. Title: Significant Predictors of Psychological Distress in the Group of Polish Young Adults During the COVID-19 Epidemic Outbreak: Sequential Mediation Model.
The analysis of the psychological condition of the public during the COVID-19 outbreak has shown that the pandemic is associated with mental changes in the general population, and particularly with an increased risk of psychopathological symptoms, especially among young people. Moreover, the coronavirus pandemic is widely recognized by researchers as a potentially traumatic stress stimulus. Therefore, the present study was conducted to (1) determine how this experience was reflected in the mental lives of the respondent and (2) identify significant predictors of psychological distress in the group of young Polish adults during COVID-19 epidemic outbreak. The web-based cross-sectional survey was applied between April 1 and April 23, 2020 to 975 Polish respondents (755 female, 77.44%) aged 18-35 years. They were divided into two age groups: younger (18-25) and older (25-35). All participants completed: General Functioning Questionnaire (GFQ), COVID-19 Risk Perception Scale (C-RPS), State-Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI-S), and General Sense of Threat to Life Scale (GSTLS). Results: Young adult Poles aged 18-35 years experienced increased mental suffering as a reaction to the COVID-19 epidemic outbreak in the first weeks of April 2020. The adults aged 18-25 years manifested significantly higher psychological distress, state anxiety, and a sense of threat to life, but they perceived less risk in COVID-19 epidemic compared to older participants. Significant differences were observed between genders in both groups with women reporting a higher level of psychological distress. Risk perception and a sense of threat to life were indirectly related to state anxiety and psychological distress. Significant predictors of psychological distress in the group of young adult Poles during the COVID-19 epidemic are: state anxiety, risk perception, and a sense of threat to life, where risk perception and a sense of threat to life mediate the relation between state anxiety and psychological distress. Conclusion: Our study showed that young adult Poles, and especially women at the age of 18-25, experienced heightened levels of psychological distress, state anxiety, risk perceptions (perceived severity) and a general sense of threat to life. This study also provides preliminary data on the significant links between state anxiety and psychological distress as mediated by risk perception and a general sense of threat to life among young adult Poles.
Rosa Novo, Associate Professor, University of Lisbon, Portugal. Barbara Gonzalez, Assistant Professor, Lusofona University of Humanities and Technologies, Portugal. Title: Personality and Psychopathology Assessment: New Indexes for Positive Impression Management.
In the field of psychological assessment, response biases such as underreporting of personality characteristics and psychopathological symptoms can lead to misleading decisions, with negative impact regardless of the context. The underreporting of symptoms of mental illness, combined with the claiming to possess desirable personality traits and assets has been labelled Positive Impression Management (PIM). Traditionally, the underreporting has been assessed as a whole, without consideration of subtypes, but research in this area has increasingly recognized that participants being assessed show distinct approaches to PIM. Research in this field has mainly used simulation research designs, with college students, which limits generalization to real world contexts. This study intends to test a composite index of Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI-2) validity scales to assess global underreporting, and two indexes of underreporting subtypes, namely Defensiveness and Social Desirability. Secondly, we want to identify the effects of the context and of personality on underreporting. Therefore, we analyzed the effectiveness of the composite indexes in comparison to the traditional validity scales per se, using a differential prevalence group methodology. A total of 1030 participants, grouped in three samples: Organizational (n=344), Community (n=339) and Clinical (n=347), were assessed with the MMPI-2. The results show, as expected, that organizational sample has significantly higher values in all validity scales, and lower values in clinical and personality psychopathology scales. The odds ratio confirms a much higher probability of underreporting occurrence in the organizational sample. The composite index of KLS (K+L+S) ≥ T 65 is better than individuals K, L, S, Mp or Wsd in the detection of global underreporting. For underreporting subtypes, the composite index of Defensiveness (F ≤ T40 & K ≥ T 65) is better than Mp, and the composite index of Social Desirability (L ≥ T 65 & S ≥ T 65) is better than the Wsd scale. On the other hand, a path-analysis shows that the context of assessment (i.e., community versus organizational) influences the level of underreporting more than personality does. In sum, the composite indicators proposed in this study seem to be exigent criteria that identify only individuals with underreporting levels that clearly represent PIM, which is very relevant for all psychological assessment, and especially in high-stakes assessment contexts.
Kamila Sobol, Assistant Professor, Concordia University, Canada. Title: Fending off Failure: How Choosing the Lesser Evil Eradicates the Negative Consequences of Goal Failure.
Imagine that you’re attending a morning meeting and are offered a muffin. Although you realize that eating this muffin would violate your current health goal, you cannot resist. Previous research on goal failure suggests that when individuals violate an activated goal, they are likely to experience the “what the hell” effect, impelling further goal transgressions. But what if the muffin you selected was offered alongside an assortment of donuts. How would choosing a muffin – perceived as the healthier alternative (lesser evil) – affect your subsequent motivated behaviors? Would your initial indulgence encourage or discourage subsequent healthy eating? In the present paper, we suggest that the same behavior (e.g. choosing unhealthy snack) can be subjectively experienced as goal failure, or not, depending on the decision context – i.e. presenting the goal-incongruent choice as the lesser evil (versus greater evil or in isolation). Study 1 We tested whether the same goal-violating behavior (eating popcorn) would impact participant’s subsequent goal-congruent behaviors (choosing healthy beverage) depending on which other snack was offered. After completing a health goal prime, participants read a scenario in which they chose a snack at the movies. Participants were randomly assigned to one of five conditions: (1) offered popcorn (lesser evil) and M&Ms and chose popcorn, (2) offered popcorn (greater evil) and an apple and chose popcorn, (3) chose popcorn (no alternative), (4) chose M&Ms (no alternative), and (5) chose an apple (no alternative). Participants were then asked to select a beverage: soda or water. Our results indicated that when popcorn was offered in isolation, or when popcorn represented the greater evil, subsequent self-regulation was impaired (chose soda). However, when popcorn represented the lesser evil, subsequent motivated behavior ensued (chose water). In fact, participants who chose the lesser evil behaved similarly to participants who chose the healthy apple. Study 2 The main objective was to demonstrate that changes in perceived goal failure drive these effects. After completing a health goal prime, participants read a hypothetical scenario in which they were presented with three snack alternatives and asked to choose one: popcorn (lesser evil), M&Ms (greater evil), or no snack. After choosing their snack, participants reported their perceptions of (health) goal failure, and finally were asked to indicate their preference for a beverage: water or soda. Mediation analysis supported that choosing the lesser evil attenuated perceptions of goal failure, improving the likelihood of choosing water. Study 3 We replicated and extended our findings with actual behaviors. After completing the health goal prime, participants were given a real choice of a snack that they would receive at the end of the experiment. Participants were randomly assigned to choose between (1) a granola bar (greater evil) and apple or (2) granola bar (lesser evil) and brownie. Once participants made their selection, they were offered to sample potato chips. The amount of chips consumed served as our DV. Participants who chose a granola bar when it was presented as the lesser evil (greater evil), consumed significantly fewer (more) chips than those who chose the alternative snack.
Shirlyn Garrett-Wilson, Assistant Professor, Chicago State University, USA. Title: Historical/Intergenerational Trauma.
“What would it be like if services were designed to strengthen rather than substitute for the caring capacity of families and communities?” Globally, human services are struggling to respond to calls for equity and inclusion from within settings now fundamentally defined by neoliberal policies and practices. We assert that all agencies with enormous power abuse that power. No matter how many enquiries and restructures take place powerful people crave powerful positions in powerful agencies. There is a place for them. But (a) keep most people out of them; (b) have highly visible and effective means for holding them accountable. It is (b) that we lack in statutory child protection. Drawing from our own research and examples of contributors to our volumeRestorative and Responsive Human Services (editors Burford, Braithwaite, Braithwaite, 2019, Routledge), we explore how combining restorative justice with responsive regulation might work to re-focus human services on outcomes associated with healthy families and communities and sustainable democracies. Over the past few years, statistics on how the U.S. justice system is failing its citizens have come fast and hard. With more than 2 million people detained in jails and prisons, we have the highest rate of incarceration in the world—a rate that’s increased 500% in the past five decades Possibly as many as 482,000 people currently held in local jails are there simply because they’re too poor to pay bail; they haven’t been convicted of a crime. African Americans are three times more likely to be killed by police than White people, and Black men have a 1-in-3 chance of being imprisoned at some point in their lifetimes. And two-thirds of those who’ve been incarcerated are rearrested within three years of their release. Those numbers continue to paint a picture of a criminal justice system that’s anything but just—or effective. Rather than focusing on rehabilitation, our police, courts, and detention systems are aimed at retribution, particularly toward people of color; they harshly punish those who break the law instead of addressing the real reasons crimes occur, experts say. We will discuss how people are working toward a new framework: one that gives people and communities what they actually need. Instead of the characteristics of adverse Childhood experiences that have not healed. This is where we begin the social justice work of restorative justice transformation. We further discuss the restorative justice practices within the African American community which is so desperately hard hit with unfair sentencing, health disparities, and lower socioeconomic needs that have yet to be met.
La Toya Patterson, Assistant Professor, Chicago State University, USA. Title: The Significance of Social Support among Black Mental Health Counselors: The Role of Counselor Educators and Supervisors in Combating Race-Related Stress.
In general, mental health counselors face unique challenges in their job roles because of the population that they work with. However, Black Americans who worked in predominately White workspaces perceived race-based discrimination to be a real issue. Perseverative cognition related to work can cause an increase in the individual’s need to recovery because it maintains work-related stressors that deplete the individual’s resources further. The repetitive thoughts can lead to anticipatory cognition or stress, which makes the individual hyperaware or vigilant due to thinking they may experience racial discrimination or a racial encounter. Social support has been used to buffer the adverse effects that are caused by racial encounters. Social support has shown to have an influence on mental health by buffering the effects of stressors.
20:30-22:30 Greek Night
Tuesday 25 May 2021
08:00-11:00 Urban Walk
12:00-12:30 Simas Poskus, Lecturer, Mykolas Romeris University, Lithuania. Title: Does the Threat of Potential Water Contamination Affect Adolescents’ Bottled Water Consumption?
Ensuring access to clean drinking water is vital for everyone and when unexpected events disrupt the normal ways society consumes water or makes certain water sources risky, we can expect a variety of reactions, some of which might lead to increased bottled water consumption in hoper of choosing the safest option. However, these changes in behavior are likely to occur in light of perceived risk, and by controlling risk perceptions communities can both direct consumers toward clean water and potentially reduce impulsive consumption of bottled water that produces a lot of plastic waste. We investigate bottled water consumption behavior comparing two samples of adolescents after an ecological disaster that had the potential to contaminate municipal drinking water for one sample. The affected group consists of 221 adolescents (56.6% were girls, M = 15.44, SD = 0.60), while the control group consisted of 156 adolescents (56.4% were girls, M = 15.50, SD = 0.55). The Comprehensive Action Determination Model (CADM) was used as a basis for the comparison both on a mean and model-path levels, while a simple measure of risk perception was used as a quasi-experimental manipulation check. The variables of the CADM were analyzed both on the mean level and on the model level – comparing path coefficients between groups. While predictive models function similarly for both groups, some interesting findings emerge when investigating how the affected group approaches bottled water consumption compared to the control.
13:00-13:30 Dovile Grigiene, PhD Student, Vilnius University, Lithuania. Title: The Importance of Gender Identity in Suicide Process: Lithuanian Sample Analysis.
Background: Male suicide is still a serious issue in many countries of the world. According to WHO data, in 2016, almost everywhere male suicide rates were higher than female, and only a few countries indicated the opposite trend in male-female ratio. Various research identifies masculinity scripts in male suicide narratives (Canetto, 2012). Certain attitudes towards masculinity and situations or experiences that threaten one’s masculinity contribute to distress in difficult life situations (Cleary, 2012; Rassmussen et al., 2017). Additionally, gender issues might disturb gender identity, which includes the meaning of masculinity/femininity to the person and the part of self-image that masculinity/femininity takes (Hoffman et al., 2000). The purpose of this study is to analyse the relation between gender identity and suicide ideation in male and female samples.
Methods: The total of 330 Lithuanian citizens aged from 18 to 81 years (M=37.71; SD=13.93) participated in an online survey (274 female and 56 male). Suicide ideation was estimated with Suicide Ideation Attribute Scale (SIDAS). Hoffman Gender Scale (HGS) subscales of gender self-definition and gender self-acceptance evaluated gender self-confidence, which is part of gender identity. Gender self-definition relates to how salient gender is to the individual’s identity. Gender self-acceptance relates to how comfortable the individual is as a member of their gender.
Results: Statistical analysis showed that gender self-acceptance was significantly lower in men with suicide ideation than in men without suicide ideation. The same pattern was found in the female sample, but in the male sample the effect size of the difference was larger, which indicates stronger relation between variables. Results indicate that gender self-definition was related to suicidality only in the female sample. Men both with and without suicide ideation have a similar level of gender self-definition.
Discussion: The study provides some insights regarding the importance of masculinity in male suicides. Men who have thoughts about suicide have more negative feelings about their masculinity and show less confidence in their masculinity than men who have no suicidality. Masculinity as part of identity has the same importance for both suicidal and non-suicidal men. On the contrary, femininity as part of identity has a lower importance in women with suicide ideation than in women without suicide ideation. This gender difference could be explained by inferring that femininity is more flexible and masculinity is more static in suicide process. In therapeutic work with suicidal men it is important to acknowledge that their masculinity probably is very important to them and they have negative feelings about this part of their identity; a suicidal woman probably also has negative feelings about her femininity, but it might not be so important to her at that time.
13:30-14:00 Janaina Pereira, Clinical Psychologist, Montepio Elderly Residences, Portugal. Title: Patients in Opioid Maintenance Programs: Psychological Features that Predict Abstinence.
The positive impact of opioid maintenance programs on the health of heroin addicts, and on public health in general, has been widely recognized, namely on the prevalence reduction of infectious diseases as HIV, and on the social reintegration of this population. Nevertheless, a part of patients in these programs cannot remain heroin abstinent, or have relapses, during the treatment. Thus, this cross-sectional research aims at analyzing the relation between a set of psychological and psychosocial variables, which have been associated with the onset of heroin use and assess if they are also associated with lack of abstinence in participants in an opioid maintenance program. A total of 62 patients, aged between 26 and 58 years old (M= 40.87, SD= 7.39) with a time in opioid maintenance program between 1 and 10 years (M= 5.42, SD= 3.05), 77.4% male and 22.6% female, participated in this research. To assess the criterion variable (heroin use) we used the mean value of positive results in urine tests during the participation in the program, weighted according to the number of months in program. The predictor variables were a set of coping strategies (The Proactive Coping Inventory (PCI; Greenglass, 2002), the dispositional sensation seeking (Sensation Seeking Scale (SSSV; Zuckerman, 1978), and the existence of Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The results showed that only 33.87% of the patients were totally abstinent of heroin use since the beginning of the program, and the lack of abstinence, corresponding to positive heroin tests, was primarily predicted by less proactive coping, and secondarily by a higher level of sensation seeking. 16.13% of the sample fulfilled diagnosis criteria for PTSD, and 67.74 % had at least one traumatic experience throughout their lives. The total of PTSD symptoms had a positive correlation with the number of physical health problems, and with the lack of professional occupation. These results have several implications for the clinical practice in this field, and we suggest the promotion of proactive coping strategies should integrate these opioid maintenance programs, as they represent the tendency to face future events as challenges and opportunities, being positively related to positive results on several fields. The early identification of PTSD in the participants, before entering the opioid maintenance programs, would be important, as it is related to negative features that hinder social reintegration. Finally, to identify individuals with a sensation seeking profile would be relevant, not only because they face a higher risk of relapse, but also because the therapeutical approaches should not ignore this dispositional feature in the alternatives they propose to the patients.
14:00-14:30 Ilaria Tercelli, Doctoral Student, University of Essex/ Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust, UK. Title: Experiences of Working-Age Adults with Depression of Psychodynamic Couple Therapy: A Thematic Analysis Using a Phenomenological Approach.
Background: Depression is a complex condition that affects over 320 million people worldwide and entails risks of relapse and suicide. As a result of the increasing number of adults experiencing symptoms of depression and anxiety in the United Kingdom, Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) services have been established to assist individuals with these difficulties. The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) guidelines have recommended behavioural couple therapy for the treatment of depression, but public provision is limited. Despite the wide range of literature explaining the link between couple well-being and mental health outcomes for adults and children, there is still a gap in the literature addressing the experiences of psychodynamic couple therapy.
Aim: The main aim is to explore the experiences of individuals with depression who have received psychodynamic couple therapy.
Method: Five participants completed a semi-structured interview, following at least six months of couple therapy for the treatment of severe distress and depression. Participants were recruited from the internationally renowned Tavistock Relationships’ clinic in London using a purposive sampling technique. Data were analysed using a phenomenological approach to thematic analysis.
Results: Participants expected therapy to address their individual and relationship concerns and found that it was more far- reaching than expected, particularly when they were able to internalise the therapist’s third eye perspective. The “third person” became a referee who would mediate the communication within the couple and provide a different perspective, which enabled a safe environment for reciprocal listening. There were complex personal and couple dynamics re-enacted in therapy, which enabled a repairing process in the relationship with the therapist when they were addressed. A crucial aspect of couple therapy was the process of making links with the past, which enabled participants to understand their current behaviour as individual and dysfunctional areas as a couple. The process of creating connections with the past was meaningful for all participants, and some perceived fostering self-reflective skills as a practical tool, but others wanted to receive direct guidance. Three main active ingredients facilitated the therapeutic process: the therapist’s ability to understand the couple as individuals rather than as a unified entity; the therapist neutrality and capacity to empathise and connect with the couple. At the end of therapy, most participants reflected that their overall therapy experience has been helpful and highlighted a positive impact in terms of their depression, perspectives and connecting with emotions, not only for the couple involved but also in the wider system.
Conclusions: The main study findings highlighted the intertwined dynamic between relationship difficulties and depression. Participants were not able to make a clear distinction between these two experiences, and this microcosm may reflect the difficulties that clients face in public services, which have historically held a more individualistic perspective of distress.
Elvis Popaj, Avanced Schema Therapist, Center for Psychotherapy and Counselling, Albania. Title: Exploring how Parents Cope with the Death of their Child.
The death of the child is one of the worst loss that an individual may experience. This study aimed at exploring how parents cope with the death of their child. For the purposes of this study, thirty-one in-depth interviews were conducted with parents who have lost a child two to fifteen years ago. Thematic analysis was used to interpret the data. Interviews were firstly transcribed and then coded. Codes were organized into several themes. This dynamic process implies that the researcher can go through codes and themes several times until final themes are identified. Several themes were identified including continuing bonds, coping through religion, working and keeping distracted, social support and parenting. Through continuing bonds parents were able to continue the relationship with their child in different forms, such as keeping photos, personal items and through projecting the characteristics of the deceased to other people, including survived children, friends of the deceased or even foreigners. Also, religion helped many of the parents keep their mental integrity during time of distress following the loss and facilitated the acceptance of the death of their child. Surviving children and nephews/ nieces served as a source of comfort for many of the parents as well as parents felt the responsibility to care for the survived children. Another element coming out of the interviews was working after the death of their child. Focusing on their work served as a distraction in temporarily avoiding the painful feelings that arise from loss. Social support was also helpful especially in the case when parents were empathically supported and not judged, asked what to do, or poorly comforted.
Patricia Oswald, Professor, Iona College, USA. Katherine Zaromatidis, Professor, Iona College, USA. Title: Developing Human Capital in an At-risk School Population: Pairing Social Justice Initiatives and Pre-professional Experiences.
At-risk students face many personal and structural barriers to academic success. Interventions that address students’ educational and social-emotional needs are desirable from both a social justice and practical perspective. One such initiative, the New York State Liberty Partnership Program (NYS LPP), was developed to maximize the successful transition of middle and high school students to the demands of higher education and beyond, through partnerships with community-based school districts and postsecondary institutions. This presentation will discuss the LPP initiative developed and implemented by Iona College in collaboration with the Yonkers, New York public schools. The majority of the Yonkers district comprises high-poverty (100% of LPP participating students meet U.S. Federal guidelines for free/reduced lunch), inner city schools that have been designated by the NYS Education Department as among the lowest performing (failing)/high-priority schools in the state. Iona’s LPP provides innovative programming for students in five Yonkers schools, two middle schools and three high schools; approximately 350 students are participating or have participated in LPP during 2017-2019. Across the five LPP-participating schools, 59-66% of the student body is Hispanic, 24-28% is Black, 5-9% is White, and 2-4% is Asian. LPP funding is provided for a number of psychosocial and educational interventions. These initiatives include: educational, cultural, and recreational programs offered in after-school, extended day, and summer formats; college and career exploration; interactive technology to improve academic performance; after-school and summer training and employment opportunities for students, parents, and other family members; parent engagement activities; and innovative practice initiatives among administrators, teachers, counselors, and other practitioners. Resiliency assessment and intervention form the basis for personal learning plans, which are developed for each student in the program. Iona’s LPP takes a multi-faceted approach that offers enrichment activities in specialized fields including: computer science/gaming, entrepreneurial/business, media, STEAM, and a medical magnet program. Other programming includes push-in classroom support, after-school standardized test preparation, homework assistance, and high interest clubs. LPP students also participate in high impact interactive workshops, field trips, project presentations, and specialized competitions. In addition, some students have the opportunity to earn college credit by enrolling in specialized summer courses on campus. Moreover, pre-professional practical experiences for Iona undergraduate and graduate students majoring in education and psychology are integrated throughout LPP programming. Under professional supervision, Iona students participate in many of the interventions noted above to provide tutoring, mentoring, and counseling for Yonkers students. While program assessment is ongoing, to date, quantitative and qualitative indicators are encouraging. Data for the at-risk students who have participated in LPP show graduation rates and other academic indices above the mean for non-participating students; in addition, LPP students self-report high satisfaction with the program. Moreover, an assessment of the pedagogical benefits to Iona students providing LPP support services indicates that these undergraduate and graduate students feel that their LPP experiences developed their skills and enhanced their professional and career competencies. The LPP is an innovative program that serves at-risk students and enhances the pedagogy of undergraduate and graduate training.
Kalman Kaplan, Professor, University of Illinois, USA. Title: Biblical Psychotherapy: Reclaiming Scriptural Narratives For Positive Psychology and Suicide Prevention.
Sixteen suicides emerge in the 26 surviving tragedies of Sophocles and Euripides. In contrast, only six suicides occur in Hebrew Scriptures which present numerous suicide-prevention narratives that effectively provide relief to people in despair unavailable to figures in these Greek plays. We contrast seven biblical and Graeco-Roman narratives, each set to an evidence-based stressor for suicide:: (1) Elijah against Ajax: Feeling depressed and isolated; (2) Job against Zeno the Stoic: Feeling one’s life is without purpose; (3) David against Coriolanus: Being a refugee from one’s homeland; (4)Jonah against Narcissus: Feeling unable to express oneself with others; (5)Moses against Oedipus: Being adopted; (6) Rebecca against Phaedra: Feeling abandoned by one’s child leaving the family nest; and (7) Ruth against Antigone: Being a product of an incestuous family of origin. These biblical figures thrive across risk factors while their Greek and Roman counterparts kill or mutilate themselves or provoke others to do the job. Where hope is locked up in Pandora’s urn after she has released all the evils unto the world, the biblical God places a bow into the sky after Noah and his family and all the creatures on the ark disembark after the receding of the flood. Although hope is locked away in Pandora’s urn, one can find it in the bow in the sky after a rain, no matter how strong. There will be no more floods. The importance of this difference cannot be overemphasized!!! With regard to suicide, in these ancient Greek narratives you can’t win for losing. The default is death or self-destructive behaviors . The opposite is true in the biblical world. Here the default is life.